We all know the basics of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, but here are some extra steps you can take to protect the Pacific Northwest’s incredible Salish Sea. These tips do not just apply to our little corner here in Washington, but also globally. It is never too late to start making these easy and simple changes to help conserve our natural world.
1. Purchase a Reusable Water Bottle
Not only is this an easy and simple step to help conserve the planet we call home, but it also saves you money! Did you know that consumers that drink the prescribed amount of water daily from bottled water will spend about $1,400 a year? Compare that to the minimal amount of $0.47 you would have spent in tap water, and it is easy to see the benefits of a reusable water bottle.
Money aside, ditching the disposable water bottle also curbs the amount of plastics that go un-recycled each year. Americans on average only recycle 23% of plastics used, which leaves behind 38 billion plastic bottles - many of which end up in our marine ecosystems. With a reusable water bottle you can drastically reduce the amount of plastic bottles that end up in landfills and nature.
Reusable water bottles such as Nalgene, HydroFlask, and Klean Kanteen, go for $10-20 and can last for decades!
2. Clean Up
Cleaning up after yourself is the first step, but if you see trash or debris lying or floating around, pick it up! Every little bit helps when it comes to cleaning up the ocean. Even trash on land should be collected as it could easily end up in our marine ecosystems.
Plastic bags and balloons look a lot like jelly-fish and often end up in the stomachs of our marine mammal friends. Shiny wrappers attract fish and can holders find themselves around the necks of birds.
So next time you are enjoying an afternoon float or a walk on the beach, make sure to collect any trash you find. Beach clean up groups are also a great way to support the community and the environment.
3. Conserve Power
Everyone young and old can help out here! Simple things around the home and the office can make all the difference. Not only on your electrical and water bill but also for the environment.
Turn off lights when leaving a room, unplug unused appliances, and have your faucets running as little as possible. Switch out generic light bulbs for incandescent or LED lights which are energy saving. You can also use low flow shower heads and take shorter showers. Take a tip from our friends down under, and turn off the shower head except when rinsing off.
Sometimes conserving energy even makes chores easier! Did you know the average dishwasher actually uses less water than washing by hand? If you have a dishwasher at home, make sure it is full before running it.
Not only does carpooling help save gas money (average of $600/month!) and reduce fossil fuels, it also provides great company! The average American spends 40 hour each year stuck in traffic. Wouldn’t it be nicer with a friend by your side?
Driving uses fossil fuels and produces greenhouse gasses, the fewer cars on the road, the fewer pollutants!
Anyone that has driven in the Seattle area knows that traffic can be tedious. Just think how nice it would be to use that HOV lane.
5. Be Mindful
Next time you are at the grocery, think before you buy. Waste comes in many forms and is easily avoided. Small steps such as pre planning meals and smaller grocery shopping trips can cut on food waste.
Ride your bike or walk when you can and as said before, if you must drive, carpool whenever possible.
Avoiding plastics is easier than you think. Forgo a straw at the soda fountain, go for bulk items rather than smaller packaged items, and bring a reusable bag to the grocery store. If you do find yourself with a plastic item, try to reuse it, and always recycle.
6. Buy Wild and Sustainably Sourced Seafood
If you are going to enjoy a pescatarian lifestyle, make sure to purchase wild salmon and sustainably sourced seafood. Not only does this help the environment, but wild and sustainable seafood also tastes better!
Farmed salmon contain up to 8 times the amount of toxins, such as PCBs, when compared to wild salmon. The toxin build up is due to the living environment of the salmon. Farm raised salmon often never leave their pens, causing dirty and unhealthy living conditions. Wild salmon will travel up and down coastlines throughout their marine lives and through rivers and streams while spawning.
Farmed salmon also have negative impacts on the environment. The close quarters of farmed salmon cause large amounts of feed and feces waste which can impact the surrounding ocean floor, as well as higher densities of disease such as sea lice. Disease and other harmful chemicals then seep into the surrounding areas or get out via escaped farm fish.
Here in the PNW we are lucky enough to have many local fish markets. Support wild and sustainable seafood, and your local economy, by shopping at your neighborhood seafood market. Here on San Juan Island, stop by the markets in Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor, as well as Westcott Bay Oyster Farm. You can also use resources like Seafood Watch to help you purchase the best and most sustainable seafood.
7. Report Sightings and Strandings
If you are ever out and see an orca, report it! You can do so by calling us at 800-450-6858. As members of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, we are able to get the information to the correct people. Correct sightings data helps researchers understand what areas need to be protected as well as gives groups like the Center for Whale Research a chance to view the orcas in question. As whales in the Salish Sea are found by sight, it could be you that is the first to see them.
Seals, sea lions, and bird often entangle themselves in fishing line and other man made products. If you ever see a marine mammal that is in need, call your local stranding network. Rescuers are then able to go out in the field to asses the situation and remove the entanglement when possible. It is important to remember never to approach or touch marine mammals. Here on San Juan Island, you can call Wolf Hollow if you see an entangled or stranded animal.
8. Be an Advocate
Write our local, state, and congressional politicians about the state of the Salish Sea and the animals that call it home. The main issues currently focus on salmon recovery, especially in reference to dam removal.
Teach friends and kids why to care for the environment. Positive stewardship and getting the next generation involved will help conserve the Salish Sea for years to come.
9. Get Outside
What is the best way to protect the Salish Sea we love so much? Go out and play in it! The more we get outside and foster an appreciation for the marine word, the more likely we are to want to protect it. Get your friends and family to join you and build a community of peoples working towards the conservation of one of the most unique marine ecosystems.
10. Spread the Word!
Tell your friends and family how they too can help! Even if you don’t live in Washington State, every bit helps. Share tips on your social media or tell relatives at the next family reunion how important and easy it is to take these simple steps to conserving our natural world.